It sounds like the plot line from a bad science fiction script: Temik of Aldicarb from Carbamate has returned to Earth with a new identity: MEYMIK 15G.
In reality, this re-branded entity is a dangerous pesticide whose return to farm fields and the American agricultural market highlights the cleverness of the chemical industry against a backdrop of bemused haplessness acted out by government regulators. The story ends predictably: Profit trumps safety, tomorrow is yesterday.
Temik is the Bayer CropScience trade name for aldicarb, the most notorious member of the carbamate family of pesticides first manufactured more than 40 years ago. In 1985 Temik was implicated in the largest case of food pesticide poisoning in American history. More than one thousand consumers were sickened by watermelons with high concentrations of the chemical.
By the summer of 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had pressured Bayer to stop making the pesticide. It took a quarter century, but at last regulators had reached a milestone highly prized in the realm of bureaucracy: the chance to write a self-congratulatory press release. Eight months later, AgLogic LLC bought the rights to Temik from Bayer and immediately petitioned the EPA to reintroduce the pesticide to the U.S. market.
Late last year, AgLogic issued its own triumphant press release: “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved AgLogic LLC’s registration of MEYMIK 15G, aldicarb pesticide, effective December 22nd 2011. The registration will ensure continued availability of aldicarb, as a valuable crop production tool, for pest control use on registered crops. The U.S. EPA approved MEYMIK 15G aldicarb granular pesticide for use on cotton, peanuts, sugar beets, dry beans, sweet potatoes, and soybeans . . .”
According to a report by News21: “Aldicarb is effective at killing nematodes and other pests, but if not used properly it poses a serious risk to the environment, farm workers and anyone who eats food or drinks groundwater contaminated with the residue. Even exposure levels that studies had once considered low were later found to disrupt the nervous system and can cause shaking, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, blurred vision and trouble breathing. Children feel the effects at lower levels than adults do.
“The pesticide has been classified as ‘extremely hazardous’ by the World Health Organization since 1975. It had been under EPA review since 1984, after it was used on potato fields on New York’s Long Island and leached into well water. That same year, a chemical in the pesticide was associated with a major catastrophe: Methyl isocyanate, or MIC, caused the death of thousands of people in Bhopal, India, when the gas leaked from a Union Carbide pesticide plant.”
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